How To Strip Wallpaper Off Drywall

How To Strip Wallpaper Off Drywall

How To Strip Wallpaper Off Drywall

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal

Removing wallpaper from drywall is a project that can drastically transform a room. Wallpaper has a strong knack to alter the aesthetic appeal and setting of a space. Nonetheless, there may come a time when you want a new look, or the existing wallpaper may be outdated, or it's falling off due to dried-up adhesive. In these instances, knowing how to remove wallpaper effectively and efficiently can dramatically ease the process.

Why Remove Wallpaper?

Wallpaper removal is typically embarked upon for various reasons apart from updating the aesthetic. Some individuals find that their wallpaper is heavily damaged or peeling off, while others may be preparing their walls for painting. Wallpaper trends also change over time, and thus, may necessitate an update. However, irrespective of the reasons, the removal process remains generally the same.

The Stripping Process

The wallpaper removal process might appear daunting to many. However, armed with the right knowledge and tools, you can transform this chore into a satisfying task. It is a three-step method that involves scoring, soaking, and then scraping off the wallpaper.


Scoring the wallpaper is the initial step in the removal process. This step entails creating tiny perforations in the wallpaper to allow the stripping solution to infiltrate behind the paper. Tools referred to as wallpaper scorers can help immensely in this process.


Following scoring comes the soaking process. The wallpaper is saturated with a stripping solution that assists in loosening it from the wall. This solution can be commercial, or you can make your own by mixing warm water and fabric softener.


After allowing the soaking, you will need to scrape the wallpaper off the wall. A plastic scraper usually works best as it doesn't damage the drywall beneath. If you find any stubborn areas, just reapply the stripping solution and scrape again.

Vital Safety Measures

While stripping wallpaper is not inherently dangerous, there are a few safety measures to adhere to. These include protecting your floor and furniture, ventilating the room properly, and wearing safety goggles and gloves during the process to protect yourself from the stripping solution.

Prepping for the New Look

Finally, after removing the wallpaper, it's time to prep your wall for its new look. Whether you're planning to paint the wall or apply new wallpaper, making sure the wall is clean, smooth, and primed is important to ensure the end results are satisfying and durable.

Tools and Materials Needed for Wallpaper Stripping

For those embarking on the task of wallpaper stripping, being well-prepared can make a significant difference. Below, you'll find the necessary tools and materials to streamline the process, ensuring that you'll work effectively without damaging your drywall.

1. Chemical Wallpaper Stripper

First and foremost, a good quality chemical wallpaper stripper is a must-have. This solution is efficient in softening the wallpaper paste, allowing for a smoother removal process. You'll find both concentrated and ready-to-use options on the market, but they essentially provide the same results. A concentrated stripper will need to be mixed with water, as per the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Spray Bottles or a Garden Sprayer

To apply the chemical stripper to your wallpaper, you'll require a spray bottle or a garden sprayer, especially for larger areas. These tools help distribute the stripper evenly over the wallpaper, ensuring no area is missed.

3. Scraper

Once the wallpaper stripper has been applied and set, a scraper is used to peel off the wallpaper. Scrape gently to avoid gouging the underlying drywall. For best results, opt for a scraper with a flat edge and a sturdy handle.

4. Steamer

A wallpaper steamer may be necessary for particularly stubborn wallpaper. This tool uses steam to dissolve the wallpaper paste, making the paper easy to remove. It's essential to be careful when using a steamer as it can cause burns if misused.

5. Sponge and Buckets

A sponge is necessary to wipe down the wall after the wallpaper has been removed, helping to eliminate any residual paste. Buckets are essential in this process too, serving as your storage for the used water and stripper solution.

6. Protective Materials

Lastly, don't forget protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and masks. These will protect your hands, eyes, and lungs from the chemicals in the wallpaper stripper. A drop cloth or plastic sheeting is also recommended to protect your floors and furniture from damage during the wallpaper stripping process.

With these tools and materials at your disposal, you'll be well-equipped to tackle your wallpaper stripping project.

Preparing the Room for Wallpaper Removal

Before you dive into the process of stripping the wallpaper, it's crucial to prepare the room well to ensure a neat and efficient wallpaper removal process. Here is a detailed guide to help you do it right.

Protecting Your Furniture and Floors

Start with removing all the furniture from the room, if possible. For larger items that can't be moved, cover them with plastic sheets to protect them from water and scraping damages. Similarly, cover your floors with drop cloths or plastic sheets to catch the falling wallpaper scraps and to prevent water spillage from soaking into the floor.

Removing Wall Fixtures

Next, remove any wall fixtures such as electrical switch plates, outlet covers, picture hangers, etc. Cover all exposed electrical outlets and switches with tape to avoid accidental water exposure. Since moisture can be a conduit for electricity, it's important to ensure you turn off the electricity at the breaker to the room you are working in to avoid any accidents.

Prepping Your Walls

Lightly score the walls with a wallpaper scoring tool. This will create tiny holes in the wallpaper, making it easier for the wallpaper removing solution to penetrate and soften the adhesive underneath. However, be careful not to apply too much pressure as you don't want to damage the drywall underneath.

Sealing Off the Room

Use plastic and painter's tape to seal off the doorway. This will prevent the wallpaper scraps and dust from traveling to other parts of your home during the removing process. Also, ensure you keep the room well-ventilated by opening windows, if possible, or using fans to circulate the air.

Gathering Your Tools

Before you start, ensure you have all the required tools and products. These may include a scoring tool, scraper, steamer or stripping solution, sponges, and a ladder, if required. Having everything at the ready will make the process run smoothly and efficiently.

Creating a Workspace

Set up a small workspace where you can keep your tools within reach. This area should be covered with a drop cloth or old towel to catch any drips from the tools or stripping solution. Aim to keep this area clean and organized to help keep the rest of your room tidy during the process.

Planning Your Strategy

Finally, plan your strategy. Decide where you will start and how you will proceed around the room. Usually, it's best to start from the top near a corner and work your way down and across. Having a clear plan in mind will help you work systematically and efficiently.

Preparation is perhaps the most important part of wallpaper removal. It sets the stage for a successful, speedy project, and safeguards your room and belongings from unnecessary damage.

Inspection and Identification of Wallpaper Type

Before you begin the process of removing your wallpaper, it's crucial to ensure a thorough inspection and identification of the wallpaper type. Different wallpapers react differently to removal methods and understanding your wallpaper type can save time and prevent potential damage to the drywall.

Performing a Visual Check

Start by performing a visual check. Some of the more common wallpapers are vinyl, foil, fabric, flock, and traditional print. Each paper will have its distinct look and feel. For instance, vinyl wallpapers are typically glossy and somewhat thick, while fabric wallpapers can have a textile feel to it.

Checking Labels or Instructions

Try to find the original packaging, which often contains important information about the type of wallpaper. If that's not available, try checking any leftover pieces from when it was originally hung. Sometimes, the manufacturer's instructions give details about the type of paper and recommended removal methods.

Performing a Scratch Test

If the visual check doesn't clarify the paper type, a scratch test might help. Gently scratch the wallpaper with a coin. If the wallpaper easily comes off, it is likely a strippable wallpaper, which is typically easier to remove. If only the surface layer peels off, leaving a paper-like layer, it is probably a peelable type. Be careful with this test to avoid damaging the wallpaper if you intend to keep it intact.

Conducting a Water Test

In addition to the scratch test, a water test might be useful for further identification. Apply a small amount of water to a discrete area of the wallpaper. If the wallpaper absorbs the water quickly, it is likely uncoated paper. If the water sits on top, it's probably vinyl or foil.

Note: Working with Specialty Wallpapers

Certain subtype wallpapers such as glass bead, grasscloth, or burlap have their own specific removal techniques. In these cases, one should consult a professional or do in-depth research before attempting removal.

By conducting a thorough inspection and identification, you ensure that you appropriately and effectively remove your wallpaper with minimal risks. Keep in mind that patience and preparation are key to a successful wallpaper removal project.

Beginning the Wallpaper Removal Process

After you have prepared your work area and made sure to protect your floors and furniture, it is now time to begin the process of wallpaper removal. It might seem daunting at first, but with patience and the right approach, the task will become less challenging.

Gather Your Tools

Firstly, gather all the necessary tools. It's not enough to merely have a scraper at hand; you will also need a perforation tool, a spray bottle filled with a special wallpaper removal solution, and a steamer. The perforation tool will be used to punch tiny holes into the wallpaper surface to allow the removal solution or steam to penetrate the adhesive under the wallpaper. It's always a good idea to have a few lightweight cloths or sponges to wipe away any residue or droplets that fall during the process.

Perforate the Wallpaper

Start by using the perforation tool to make small holes in the wallpaper. Make sure not to apply too much pressure or you might penetrate the drywall beneath. Work in small sections so that the removal solution or steam doesn't dry out before you have a chance to scrape the wallpaper off.

Apply the Wallpaper Removal Solution

After perforating the wallpaper, spray your chosen wallpaper remover solution onto the surface. Allow it to soak for at least 15 minutes so that it can penetrate the holes and dissolve the adhesive backing.

Scrape the Wallpaper

Once the solution has soaked sufficiently, you can begin to scrape the wallpaper off the wall. Start at one edge and work your way across, scraping gently to avoid damaging the wall. If the wallpaper doesn't come off easily, apply more solution and allow it to soak for another few minutes before trying again.

Use a Steam Stripper

If the wallpaper proves to be stubborn and refuses to budge even after application of the removal solution, it may be time to use a steam stripper. This machine uses steam to soften the adhesive, making the wallpaper easier to scrape off.

Clean the Wall

After you have successfully stripped all the wallpaper off, take the time to clean the wall. Remember those lightweight cloths or sponges? Now is their time to shine. Wet them with warm water and gently wipe off any adhesive residue from the drywall. It's crucial to remove all remnants of adhesive to ensure that the wall is smooth and ready for whatever decoration comes next.


Throughout the whole process, always remember the key here is patience. Rushing through the steps could result in damage to your drywall, causing more work for you in the end. Stripping wallpaper off drywall isn't just about the removal, it is also ensuring that the underlying wall remains undamaged and ready for its next adornment.

Tips for Removing Stubborn Wallpaper from Drywall

At times we come across stubborn wallpaper glued on the drywall, resistant to the basic methods of removal. Do not fret, as we offer advanced tips that come to your rescue. Read on to learn the game-changing ideas to revolutionize your wallpaper stripping process.

Using a Wallpaper Steamer

A wallpaper steamer uses heat to soften the glue between the wallpaper and the wall, which makes it easier to scrape off. Remember to move the steamer slowly over the paper and scrape off the loosened wallpaper before moving on to the next portion. Keep a close eye so as not to cause any damage to the drywall underneath.

Applying Fabric Softener

This might surprise you! A solution of fabric softener and hot water can effectively help to remove stubborn wallpaper. Mix equal parts of fabric softener and hot water, and soak the wallpaper using a sponge or spray bottle. Let it sit for twenty minutes before you start scraping it off. It helps to dissolve the glue holding the wallpaper and thus, aids in easier removal.

Utilize a Wallpaper Scoring Tool

These handy tools help perforate the wallpaper so that the wallpaper remover can penetrate better. Use a circular motion to create holes without tearing the wallpaper or damaging the drywall. Once you have scored the paper, spray or apply your wallpaper remover, and let it soak for a few minutes.

Using a Wallpaper Stripper Solution

Specially designed for stubborn wallpaper removal, these solutions will penetrate the wallpaper and dissolve the adhesive used to glue it to the wall. Follow the application instructions on their packaging, and remember to always wear gloves and protect your eyes when using these solutions.

Patience is Key

Lastly, it's important to remember that removing stubborn wallpaper can be a tedious process, and patience is key. Take your time, and don't resort to aggressive techniques that could damage your drywall. If you remain patient and follow these tips, you'll have a fresh, clean wall ready for your next decorating project in no time.

Repair After Wallpaper Removal

Stripping off old wallpaper to make room for a fresh coat of paint or a new wall treatment is often a necessary step in renovating a room. However, this can occasionally lead to minor damage to the drywall underneath. Once your wallpaper is removed, you'll need to repair any defects and prep the wall for its new finish. Here are a few essential steps in the repair process.

Drywall Repair

If you encounter any dents, holes, or scratches during wallpaper removal, you may need to repair the drywall. To begin, clean the area that you will be patching and remove any loose debris. Next, apply a pre-mixed joint compound to the area using a drywall knife. Smooth the compound over the whole area and let it dry. Sand the compound until it's smooth, then clean the area to remove dust.

Smooth Surface Preparation

Creating a smooth surface for your new wall treatment is paramount. Start by using a sandpaper on any raised spots or leftover adhesive to ensure a smooth finish. Once your wall is smoother, clean it with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Priming the Wall

Priming is a crucial step that should not be overlooked after repairing the wall. A high-quality primer can help to create a smooth base for your new paint or wallpaper and can also help to prevent stains and discoloration. Apply the primer evenly over the surface of the wall and allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Applying the New Finish

Once the primer is completely dry, the wall is ready for its new finish. Whether you've chosen to repaint or re-wallpaper, follow the appropriate steps to attain a professional and appealing result.

Preventative Measures for Future Removal

If you decide to wallpaper again, think about the future. Use a sealant before applying new wallpaper. This will make the wallpaper easier to remove next time and save the drywall from potential damage.

Remember, while the process may seem time-consuming, a properly prepped and repaired wall will increase the lifespan of your new wall treatment and enhance the overall aesthetics of your room.

Final Thoughts: Key Takeaways from Wallpaper Removal Experience

Stripping wallpaper off from drywall is a process that may not be appealing, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it becomes manageable. The journey comes with a few takeaways that are not only rich in DIY lessons but also applicable in other aspects of life.

Patience and Preparation

One of the most significant learnings from stripping wallpaper off drywall is patience. The process is slow and requires attention to detail to prevent damage to the wall's surface. The preparation phase is also crucial. Come loaded with the right tools and materials, which include a scoring tool, water, and a scraper. Also, clean up the space around the wall to make it conducive for work.

Knowledge is Power

Understanding the type of wallpaper and adhesive used determines the removal procedure. Using the wrong stripping technique can lead to unnecessary hurdles and damage. Vinyl wallpapers are famously known for their stubbornness; they require more soaking and scraping than the regular wallpapers.

Preventive Measures

Protective measures are necessary when undertaking wallpaper removal. Ensure the floors and furniture are well covered to prevent indirect damages and cleanups. Electrical outlets should be taped over for safety. Remember to turn off electricity from the breaker box to avoid the risk of electric shock.

Proper Disposal

The final stage of removing the wallpaper involves clean-up and disposal of the paper debris. Consider the environmental implications of your disposal methods. Avoid burning or unnecessary littering. Most wallpapers are recyclable.

Practice makes perfect

Finally, perfecting the art of wallpaper removal takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out as planned. Keep doing it, learn from your mistakes, and gradually, it will become an enjoyable task.